Archive | January, 2012

Miami: stone crab and friends

30 Jan

I’ve been lame over the past couple of weeks as I’ve been on some more fun adventures seeing family and friends. No pictures of food, although that’s not for a lack of some excellent meals.

I left Miami and the Freeman clan this a.m. after a fun 5 days. I mostly cooked, but last night Carnet and Free took over. The result: a fabulous dinner of champagne, stone crabs, sausages, cauliflower rice with bacon, a chunky “fridge” salad (everything in the fridge that could possibly go on a salad), and some super decadent chocolate cupcakes and a carrot cake. I love the men in my life who cook!

Back to Honolulu right now to clear out of the house, then to SF for a few weeks, then off to Barcelona on February 24. Mark and I are planning our adventures and working on stages/externships. Stay tuned for more fun eating in SF over the next few weeks and then daily adventures in Spain!

Coconut Peanut Butter. Yep, that’s right. Yummmmmm

12 Jan

I’m in love…again and again…with all kinds of new food, almost every time I try something that surprises me. That sounds very “American”, I know – always wanting more and new food.

My new love? Yep, the picture says it all – Coconut Peanut Butter. Truth be told, I don’t love peanut butter, and in fact if there’s any other type of nut butter in my fridge, I’ll go for that. But, oh this coconut peanut butter. It does it for me.

Mom and I went country yesterday as I had some business up there. I was early for an appointment and so we stopped at the old Waialua Sugar Mill. The owner(s) now use it as a place to house a farmer’s market as well as process and sell Waialua coffee beans and soon chocolate, which I understand they are in the process of making from their own cacao beans they are growing up there. Inside part of the mill is a little shop that sells all kinds of jams, jellies, coffee beans, shave ice (why isn’t it “shaved ice”, past tense?) and a lot of other stuff made locally. The coconut peanut butter caught my eye. Just coconut, peanuts and local honey.

My breakfast this a.m.: coconut peanut butter toast with a side of fresh Maui pineapple and cup of 100% Kona. It doesn’t get much better than that for a lady who has quite a sweet tooth.

After the mill and my appointment, we headed to Haleiwa Joe’s which is quite a tourist trap and the food is really mediocre at best in my opinion, but it’s a tradition for mom and me, as well as for Busaba and me, to go get their fried calamari. The calamari comes out nice and crispy with a very light breading, and they serve it with their version of a sweet chili dipping sauce, much thinner and lighter than the bottled stuff. It’s pretty darn good.

So, mom and I got our usual, along with coconut shrimp which, to my surprise, was outstanding (and I wasn’t even that hungry, so it really was good), and a spinach salad. Then, we went home and embarked on another yearly tradition: watching Christmas Vacation. I know it’s well past Christmas (but who defines when the Christmas season should end? My dad left his Christmas tree up until June one year), but that movie is hilarious any time of year. We’ve been watching it since it first came out in 1989. It’s Chevy Chase and Randy Quaid at their best. My favorite line: “If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet,I wouldn’t be more surprised.”

Comfort food – stuffed meatloaf and egg nog bread pudding

11 Jan

My mom grew up in the midwest and she loves midwest comfort food – meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, salad and bread pudding. So, last night she made meatloaf and bread pudding. Busaba, Bev and Ian supplied the potatoes, salad and bbq’d corn.

But, unlike some of the food in the midwest and especially traditional midwest meatloaf made with ketchup (gross!), mom’s meatloaf and bread pudding are excellent.

Janet’s meatloaf recipe starts with a standard lean ground beef and ground pork mix. She does 50-50 pork to beef, and last night it was 6 lbs of meat total. I should note that this recipe makes 2, 3 lb loaves, so it feeds a lot of people. To the meat she adds 2 diced and browned onions, 1/2 head of sauteed minced garlic, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs she makes herself, oregano, salt, pepper, and 4 eggs. For the stuffing, it’s 1/2 lb. of shredded mozzarella, thin slices of good deli ham, and lots of blanched spinach. She rolls the meat around the filling and shapes the loaves. On top, she puts 1/2 strips of thick cut bacon and cherry tomatoes cut in half. Then, she bakes the loaves at 350 degrees F for about an hour, and then broils the top to brown it at the finish.

Here’s a closer look at some slices:

It’s absolutely stunning, isn’t it?  And, I can’t believe I just called meatloaf stunning.  At any rate, it was delicious.  Mario Batali, eat your heart out!

Even though we were all stuffed, we had to eat Janet’s famous bread pudding. Whenever she makes this, people ask for the recipe. It’s so utterly simple, yet it pleases every time.  She calls it her Egg Nog Bread Pudding.

Here is her recipe (yield: 9 small pieces, from an 8×8 pan):

3 eggs
3 egg yolks
3/4 c. white sugar
2 c. half and half
1/4-1/2 cup light rum (amount depending upon your taste)
1 tsp vanilla
nutmeg to your taste
1 loaf good crusty bread

Beat eggs and egg yolks. Add in cream and then beat in sugar a bit. Add rum, vanilla and nutmeg. Mix all together, then, cut the bread into 1 inch squares and soak in the egg-cream mixture for 1/2 hour to an hour. Bake at 350 until done, which was about 35-40 minutes last night, plus a quick broil to brown the top at the end.

She always pairs it with a good vanilla bean ice cream, although last night we forgot the vanilla at our place, so we used Busaba’s haupia. It was still delicious!

Butterfish, sashimi plates and another fine sunset

10 Jan

Oh how I love fresh sashimi. We went to our old standby last night – Yanagi. There are better places in town but Yanagi serves up consistently fresh sashimi, the service is excellent and fast, and it’s kind of a tradition the night or two before Carnet flies out somewhere. So, mom, Carnet and I went to see another fabulous sunset first (below) and then ate WAY too much food.

The pic above is not even all of the food we ate. We were ridiculous, I know. I am going to note that we had a few leftovers for breakfast to make myself feel better. I love the pic of my mom, below. She looks like she ate the cat!

I captured a series of funny faces she made while eating sushi, but this gives you an idea. She is a very expressive lady and she makes me laugh. One of the great things about her is that she loves to laugh, as well, and we’re both very good at laughing at each other and ourselves. So, cheers to you, mom!

Today’s lunch: I made bison burgers with red peppers and onions and then stuffed each with a nickel size of stinky blue cheese. I put them in lettuce wraps with a honey mustard smear. Perfect contrast of crunchy lettuce and creamy blue cheese, and a good lean/fat ratio between the bison and cheese. Now, off for a midday swim to burn some of it off. Hopefully, it will all stay in my belly, as I’m not adhering to the rule that you should stay out of the water for an hour after you eat. Wish me luck!

Another fun and fab dinner, and a friend’s new food business

9 Jan

I love eating with friends who make it so relaxing, fun and full of laughter. Last night, we started out with a scotch tasting. S & G picked up the scotches on their recent U.K. trip. Although I was excited to do my very first scotch tasting in which we compared 5 scotches, the analysis confirmed that I do not appreciate scotch. I tried hard to want to like it, but I guess I’m just not that refined. I would much prefer a glass of spicy red or Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose any day.

We indeed have Champagne with Gigi’s first course – a delicious mushroom soup. We also added in a glass of the Champagne to the mushroom soup at the last minute prior to service and it really made the soup pop. The rest of the meal, minus green tea mochi for dessert, is shown in the featured pic above. Gigi is famous for her lamb, and I love lamb. She marinated her chops in elderflower cordial. Sensational! I need to get a bottle of that. It had this beautiful, faint flower scent to it, and it married well with the one sprig of rosemary that did not overpower the elderflower. And, Gigi broiled it to a perfect rare-med rare.  Simple perfection.

This is Gigi and me in her kitchen:  

I really want to post the hilarious picture of Carnet and Suzanne – Carnet in the massage chair and Suzanne on a couch – blissfully napping after dinner in the glow of the fireplace. But, I’m not sure either of them would appreciate me posting a picture of them napping, although they both look very sweet.

What a delightful meal and a good nap for the two of them!

Changing gears, I just found out that one of my good friends who moved to CO from HI last year started a food business! Her business is Nokaoi foods and she makes healthy and organic desserts.  Check out her delicious desserts at

She just started her business with another fitness guru friend and I’m wishing them much success!  Lora loves to eat tasty food, so I know her healthy versions will be sensational – especially the flourless chocolate tort that has coconut milk in it!

Mex food night and a quick braised greens recipe that’s awesome

8 Jan

The other day when I said 2012 food has not been that exciting so far, of course I meant with the exception of going to Shan’s for Mexican night! Above, her lovely table and the food. The menu: Likikoi margaritas (the best I’ve ever had) rimmed with li hing mui; marinated and grilled tuna on corn tortillas; grilled chicken skewers; Mex rice; a salad of black beans, hearts of palm and mango; and chili rellenos. Below is a closer look at the rellenos. Shannon loves to fry, and she’s great at it. She never uses a thermometer and her fried food always comes out stunningly crisp and not greasy. There’s no magic here, just lots of experience. She knows her stove temperatures and when to drop the items in and take them out.

I loved her really simple salad of black beans, hearts of palm and fresh mango. It was dressed with a hint of lime and cilantro. The sweetness of the mango worked with the marinated hearts of palm really well.

Onto a recipe from last night’s meal… after a beautiful sunset and Mai Tai at the Elk’s Club (below):

Last night, I topped the gumbo a la Rachel with some braised kale (1 bunch green, 1 bunch purple). I’ve always been a fan of kale, collards, and chard. After so many years of preparing them, I’m trying to find new ways to enjoy them. Have that bottle of Martinelli’s left over from New Year’s eve? This recipe is a great way to use it! Any apple cider will do, but preferably one with no added sugar as you don’t want to overdo the sugar.

Here’s the braised greens recipe (serves 4): Take 2 bunches of your favorite cooking greens and throw them in a large pot along with 2 cups of apple cider, 1 cup chicken stock, and a large pinch of salt if your chicken stock has no salt (otherwise, you don’t really need the salt). Turn the burner on high and steam/braise the greens for a few minutes until wilted, but not “dead”. You want to preserve some of the great vitamins and fiber in them. Take them out with tongs and place on top of your favorite stew or protein, or use as a side. E voila! The sweetness of the cider compliments the earthiness and slight bitterness of the greens. So easy and delicious.

Up to Gigi and Suzanne’s tonight for dinner. Gigi always makes these individual chocolate molten lava cakes that are to die for. Can’t wait for dessert!

Hangover food and 3 rounds of chicken

6 Jan

Isn’t this sandwich beautiful? I am a bit of a sandwich queen, despite my attempts at eating Paleo which has provided Carnet with much success in how he feels and looks. There’s something so satisfying about 2 really good pieces of bread housing a fantastic sauce or sauces (the gooey-er the better in my book), and your favorite vegies, fruits and/or proteins. Before culinary school, I thought about doing a sandwich truck, but the math didn’t work out for me as I’m stubborn and wanted to serve only all natural, pricier proteins, and organic grains and vegies. I don’t think people in Hawaii will flock to buy a $15 sandwich over and over, no matter how delicious or packed with good calories and fats (in large part, people in Hawaii want lots of food for their money and they’re addicted to fat, usually bad fats. Spam musubi and plate lunches….need I say more?). In defense of Hawaii, over the last 5 years especially, we have seen a movement by the 30s and 40s crowd to source and serve better food, source locally, engage in nose-to-tail cooking, and “try” to bring more CA-style eateries into being. There’s still room for improvement, however, and hopefully in a few years that’s where I’ll come in 😉

But, I digress. Back to my sandwich. So, my cranberry-walnut-whole wheat bread sandwich is perfect hangover food. How do I know this? Not saying. Anyway, I toasted the bread, slathered it with soynut butter (non-gmo, if you believe the label but I don’t since I’m pretty sure Monsanto owns the whole corn and soybean world – boooo!) and inserted slices of local apple bananas and turkey bacon. The sweet, the salty, the crunchy and creamy from the soynut butter…ahhh. It seemed healthier than many other combos I could have opted for, but it had lots of fat and salt that did cure me. That, with a piping hot cup of 100% Kona coffee. Wow! I suppose it’s an ode to Elvis, as everyone says he liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but this one is really an ode to my mother. We have been laying into bacon and banana sandwiches since I had my first tooth. I think this would have also been great with almond butter, which I’ll try next time.

2012 has not been a really exciting food year for me yet. It’s mainly been about making simple, nutritious food for the family. Carnet and I made 2 beer can chickens (yes, free range, organic chickens if you believe the labeling) the other night, which is a great way to have leftovers for at least 2 meals. Super simple recipe will be posted at the bottom of the page. And, you don’t even need to use beer cans. I only had one can of Asahi, so I used a can of ginger ale for the other one. Last time, I used a can of pineapple juice. It all works. It’s about the steam more than the actual flavor of the liquid.

Anyway, 1 chicken fed 4 of us, along with roasted root vegetables and cauliflower rice. Then, dinner #2 out of the second chicken was a sliced chicken, apple, spinach salad, with a few left over vegies from the fridge topped with a simple balsamic, mustard, and olive oil dressing.

Meal #3 will be a kind-of gumbo, but not really. I’ll shred the rest of chicken #2 and throw it in with some fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, onions, fennel, celery, red bell peppers, chicken broth, a Thai chili or 2, andouille sausage and scallions. Again, this one is about cleaning out the pantry and using up vegetables in the fridge. We won’t put it over rice, as that’s not in Carnet’s eating regimen at the moment, but it will be a good stew, nonetheless.

Here’s the beer can chicken recipe I use:

Beer Can Chicken

 1 (4-pound) whole chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub (if it doesn’t have salt, also rub chicken with 1 tablespoon salt)

1 can beer

Remove neck and giblets from chicken and reserve for gravy making. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub chicken with oil and then rub inside and out with dry rub and salt. Set aside.

Open beer can and take several gulps (make them big gulps so that the can is half full). Place beer can on a solid surface. Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, plunk the bird cavity over the beer can. Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill or an oven roasting pan and place in the center of the grate or oven. The bird should be balancing on the can uniformly.

On Grill: Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e. no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

In Oven:  If you do it in an oven pan, you can also throw in vegetables to roast with it in the bottom of the pan about 30 minutes prior to the bird being done. I use carrots, celery, onions, parsnips and sweet potatoes cut in big chunks. If you cut them too small, they will be too mushy.  Cook at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes to start browning and crisping the skin, and then lower temp to 350 until temp registers 165 in breast.  Let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

* One chicken will feed about 4 people. Use two chickens if there are more people or leftovers for 2 more meals!

** If you want crispy skin, you’ll need to baste the outside of the chicken with olive oil or butter a few times while it’s cooking.

Graduation and End of 2011 re-cap

3 Jan

Graduation was on December 20.  What fun!  Above is a pic of our whole class on Dec. 19 with our final exam judges.  Below are a few shots of us in different groups.   My mom flew out from CO and Carnet flew in from Japan.  Carnet was a super champ, as I made him go out to dinner at Sons & Daughters for an 8:45 seating.  Dinner was fabulous, so for anyone who is in SF, I recommend Sons & Daughters.  You need to have some time to dine, as it’s a price fixe dinner and they space out the courses.  It wasn’t overly long, but you’ll need to plan a good 2 1/2 hours, especially if you want to speak with the somm about some wines.  Carnet picked out some great wines to accompany the courses!

From left: Chef Jeremy, Ian (congrats, Ian, on best project, you sous vide king!), Anne, Bobby, me, Mark and Tomas.

Chef Peter and me.

The day after graduation, we threw a little cocktail party in the SF apartment. Bobbie and Mark helped me cooked appetizers: kibbeh with carmelized onions; flatbread pizzas with roasted mushrooms, pecorino romano, mozarella, roasted garlic oil, and arugula in balsamic on top after it was baked; smoked salmon on cucumber rounds with creme fraiche and dill (classic, but always good); and a meat and cheese plate with fig jam and fresh fruit.  Many thanks to the boys who basically did most of it, as I was busy doing something I can’t remember at this point.

Carnet, Jan and I flew back home to HI on Dec. 22, and on Dec. 24 we were at our favorite Christmas Eve dining spot – more out of tradition and view than anything else. We went to Orchids in the Halekulani Hotel. Here’s a pic at sunset of Carnet and me (and some random guy off to the right), and then another one of me after Busaba, Ian and Bev made me wear a bakers cap with “Iron Chef” labeled on it – hilarious!

On Christmas day, we went over to Busaba’s and cooked there. Prime Rib is Carnet’s domaine, so he was in charge of that.  In trying to stick as much as possible with Carnet’s paleo eating (with a few blips here and there), I made a parsnip and celery root puree that mimicked mashed potatoes and was sooo much more flavorful and healthy.  Here’s the quick and easy recipe:

Celery Root and Parsnip puree (serves 8-10):

Ingredients: 10 parsnips; 1 large celery root; 1/2-1 cup cream; 3 Tablespoons butter; minced parsley; salt in boiling water

Directions: Think of this preparation as similar to mashed potatoes but sweeter. 1)  Peel parsnips and celery root and cut them into even size chunks. 2) Put in 2 different pots with enough water to barely cover each.  3) Salt each pot of water heavily so it tastes like sea water. 4) Cook each until fork tender. 5) Strain both, reserving the parsnip water.  6) Add cooked parsnips, celery root, 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup of parsnip water, and 1/2 cup of cream in a cuisinart or really good food processor or blender.  7) Puree, adding more of the parsnip water as you go until the mixture is creamy, like mashed potatoes.  You can also add in more cream if you’d like, but the parsnip water adds in a lot of flavor and vitamins from the cooking water, and saves a bunch on calories and fat.  8) Pour into serving bowl and mix in minced parsley.   E voila!

New Year’s Eve we spent at the Rachel and Carnet casa, made a few appetizers, and drank way too much champagne and 21 year old Glen Livet with family.   I need to get my butt in gear and start planning some more for Spain.  Hawaii has a way of making you slow down, enjoy the sun and sand, and just want to be.  Tonight – up to Shannon and Fred’s for what will surely be remarkable Mexican food.  Shan is a whiz in the kitchen and my learning continues every time I go to her house!